Caroline M., NV
Both my sixteen-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter have had severe asthma nearly their entire lives.
We discovered my son has asthma when he was just two and a half-years-old while visiting my father in San Francisco. My son came down with a persistent cough at the beginning of the trip, which quickly worsened. His coughing became so violent that it caused him to vomit.
We rushed him to urgent care unaware that my son's smiley and giggly demeanor was actually masking a very serious situation. When the doctor discovered that one of his lungs was barely functioning, we were whisked away to the emergency room where my son was given a host of breathing treatments and an asthma diagnosis.
In my efforts to learn everything I could about how to manage my children's asthma, I began to get involved with the American Lung Association here in Reno, Nevada. That's around the time the bucket theory was first brought to my attention.
The basic principle of the bucket theory is that it's often not just one trigger that causes an asthma attack but a build up of many different factors that can provoke respiratory distress. For my kids, having even a mild cold begins to fill that bucket a bit. Cold air, exhaustion, mold and pet dander are a toxic combination if dumped into their asthma buckets all at once.
Managing asthma is all about limiting exposure to triggers. If it's cold outside, I make my kids wear a scarf over their mouths. If they have a cold and are invited to sleepover at a friend's home who has a dog, the answer is no. We just can't risk the consequences.
The one factor though that I can't control, which overfills our family's asthma bucket far too often is dirty air. My kids depend on having healthy air to breathe. That's why I'm diligent about checking the air quality forecast every day. If the air quality is not in our favor, I drive my kids to school and contact their principal to ensure they are kept inside during gym class and recess.
There are days however, when the air quality report indicates we're safe, but my kids' can still feel that ozone burning sensation in their lungs, or we can still see the smog lingering in the air.
As a mother who is doing everything I possibly can to keep my kids safe and to avoid more missed school days and trips to the ER, we desperately need reliable air quality protections that prevent sickness and other serious health emergencies. Every child deserves to breathe healthy air. It's time we make this a national priority.
" Both my sixteen-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter have had severe asthma nearly their entire lives.
First published: December 5, 2014
Sign up for the latest lung health news sent right to your inbox.
Join more than 500,000 people who receive research updates, inspiring stories, health information and more.